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BSD Mailbag 12.11.20

it’s the last mailbag of the regular season!

Attitude Awards 2020 Photo by Attitude Magazine/Attitude Magazine via Getty Images

Have you seen a more beautiful trophy?

land grant trophy lasers


My eyes are watering at its unyielding exquisiteness.

Who would you prefer to play in the Big West for crossover week? I would prefer Wisconsin, to measure where we may be for next year, even if it means another loss.—wvlion

I know it is very unpopular, but I would like to see Nebraska again, so we can beat them by three touchdowns like we were capable of if we had gotten out of our own heads. Besides that, I’m pretty open.

I actually *don’t* want to play Wisconsin, since we kick off the 2021 season against them. I don’t want back to back games against the same team (if we don’t have a bowl, and I hope we don’t).

Is Gino Capone the most Penn State name ever?—Dbridi

It definitely is a name that epitomizes the Paterno era in Happy Valley.

Did you get a Nittany Lion Mystery Pack, and if so, was there anything extra-special cool in it?!—Smee

I legitimately have no idea what you are talking about and am now distraught. What is this? Is it too late to get one, whatever it is? Please let me know in the comments, and if you got one, drop the contents below.

Did anyone predict our MBB team having a better year than the Football team this year?—Dbridi

Probably not, but then again, there’s not much that’s happened in 2020 that folks actually did predict. I say that, of course, knowing that because we’ve all lamented this year so much, the universe is just gonna make 2021 worse, right?

What is an acceptable tenure for a HC? For assistant coaches? I know we like to consider Penn State is a “destination” school, but it appears other universities think they can lure Franklin away. How long “should” a HC stay at Penn State, so we can prevent the revolving door (cough Pitt cough cough) phenomenon? Likewise, what is an acceptable period to determine if an assistant coach is cutting the mustard (condiment tie-in) or not? IIRC it seemed quickly apparent John Donovan was not a good fit for State but was kept for a second year due to Franklin’s loyalty to him; should an assistant coach be given minimum of X years to prove he can improve his part of the team?

(Context: It seems part of this year’s challenge is having so many new coaches who cannot physically meet with their players. While COVID is (hopefully) not an every year situation, the whole impact seems to have bitten us on the rear.)—PSU_Lions_84

I don’t think there’s any one answer to this question, for any school, but especially at Penn State. Absent any egregious off-field issues, I think two years is the bare minimum that a coach should be granted; even then, though, two years isn’t going to be a full barometer of a coach’s worth, especially if they’re willing to make staff changes (like Franklin).

I think that four years should be the baseline for most coaches, enough for the coach to have recruited his own players and install and teach the schemes he wants, but also enough to recognize any areas of weakness and work to correct them.

In terms of a max, every scenario is so vastly different. I’m of the opinion that Paterno should have retired after the 2005 season (if not before, but that was a redemption season that would have seen him go out on top) - but you’re right, because most coaches these days can’t sustain success at one school for the decades they used to (Nick Saban exempted, of course).

It’s all about expectations, both internally at the University for the football program, and externally by both fans and the pundits we like to decry so much. Because the perception is, at a school like Alabama or Ohio State right now, making the playoffs over half the time, and having a shot to win a title more often than not. For Penn State right now, it’s different - our expectation should be ranked most of the time and top ten finishes more often than not, and talk of the playoffs and championships most years if not ultimately making them. And that’s happened so far under Franklin, this year notwithstanding.

But again, such success can be fleeting or waning, and it’s the exception, not the rule, that meets the expectations around a school. And of course, those expectations can change (gradually or quickly) for any program, at any time.

For example, if Jim Harbaugh leaves Michigan to go to the Lions, and Michigan brings in a coach that beats Ohio State for three straight years - even if Ryan Day goes to the playoffs a few times, would his seat not be hot? And in those same scenarios, if the unnamed Harbaugh replacement doesn’t win the Big Ten East in any of the years they beat Ohio State, wouldn’t that program feel like they’re riding high even without titles?

I just giggled thinking about this after that long tangent, and I thank you for indulging this sidetrack. To go back to the topic, there’s no blanket rule you can make for every school, or league, or even coach. Not the most satisfying of answers, I know.

What do you think about the Knight Commission’s endorsing a FBS split from the NCAA...It is many ways makes sense as major college football has very little in common with other college sports (you can make the same case about basketball, of course, but the NCAA still owns the NCAA tournament and they aren’t going to let go of that cash cow). This would open the door to making all those shady recruiting practices (Bagmen!) not shady, but would also create an arms race for major programs that would, IMO, create even more of a haves and havesnot situation. So in the end better for the top players, maybe marginally better for the rest of the players (probably some sort of stipend), and jury out on the sport in general. Is this good or bad?—MJBPSU

I’m not a fan of this idea. I don’t know much about it (haven’t read up on it at all), but it’s already so different from the other tiers - what’s the point in breaking off 130 schools, for one sport, from the rest of their counterparts, against whom they compete in every other sport? The NCAA would modify its own eligibility rules (and especially allowing name and likeness licenses) well before this would happen.

Do you have concerns about universities using virtual learning platforms to further cheat the academic growth of athletes? It seems to me that it would be very easy to cheat. What’s to keep a school from enrolling their athletes in online classes and then paying people to take the classes?

Of course virtual learning is going to be in place until this pandemic is over, but I believe that once it is over online classes should no longer be an option for athletes. I know that as a teacher who has been online since March that there is no way that I can ensure that my students are the people doing the work. Now, I am pretty sure there have been no cases of fraud in 5th and 7th grade, but there are no real stakes either.—Gerry Dincher

I don’t have these concerns, and here’s why - those schools who would further cheat using virtual learning platforms were the ones cheating non-virtually before. Those who want to skirt the rules will find ways to skirt the rules, whatever the rules are. Because of that I think the positives of virtual learning for college students well outweigh the negatives - for most subjects, that is.

Our Washington Bureau of Football Services just beat the mighty Pittsburgh United Steelworkers Union! Are we actually Super Bowl playoff bound?—Mr. Rosewater

Not sure I’m the “we” you’re talking about, there.

I think my WFT has a good shot of making the playoffs! Provided they don’t alter the playoff rules midseason, however logical it might be to do so.

If you had one really stupid superpower(no superhero stuff) what would it be?

Mine would be the ability to pick good fruit. Is there anything worse than spending your hard earned money and biting into a mushy apple, a chewy dry orange, or an overripe watermelon.—bva-psu

Mine would be to fall asleep anywhere, at any time, I want to go to sleep. I’m a light sleeper, and my insomnia has gotten worse during this pandemic. I’d love nothing more than going to bed at night and actually falling asleep quickly, and staying asleep all night (I generally wake up around 10-12 times a night). That seems like such unattainable heaven at this point.

What are your top three novelty songs you like. The 70s were the most formative times of my radio listening childhood. The 80s were my teen years and had the most to do with the style of music I prefer. There are many novelty songs in many decades.

My top 3 novelty songs

1. Convoy: by CW McCall

2. My Ding-A-Ling: by Chuck Berry

3. King Tut: by Steve Martin

Other notable tunes: The Streak-Ray Stevens, Kung Fu Fighting-Carl Douglas, Basketball Jones-Cheech & Chong, Spam-Monty Python’s Flying Circus, Fish Heads- Barnes & Barnes, Rubber Ducky-Bert & Ernie, Disco Duck-Rick Dees—EagleLionSly

I’m not sure I could come up with three, because I’ve never been a huge fan of novelty songs. I did really enjoy The Saga Begins by Al Yankovic, though, if that counts - but that’s more from my Star Wars fandom than any love of that type of song.

Since it’s that time of year, though, I guess I’ll also say I do enjoy Snoopy vs the Red Baron. But not, like, on repeat.

Continuing the music topic… your top three favorite popular songs that also had killer bass lines. And you can’t say Birdland.

  • I Want You Back – Jackson 5
  • Fire – Ohio Players
  • Psycho Killer – Talking Heads


Number one for me will always be this :

A not too distant second is:

And then a third from one of the first albums I ever bought with my own (allowance) money:

If you were rich enough, what little guilty pleasure would you do. Nothing exotic or overly expensive, just somewhat wasteful.

Mine is I would only wear a pair of socks once. Wash them and then donate them. But only every wear them once, when they are the most comfortable. They are never the same again.—BMAN13

I’m not sure that there’s anything super indulgent like this that I would do. I’d probably do something that most rich folks do, which is hire a regular cleaning service, because I hate hate hate cleaning. I’d say that I’d throw away my dishes after using them one time so that I don’t have to wash them, but I wouldn’t do something so wasteful (your guilty pleasure was described so well, and no one could begrudge you that because you’re DONATING the excess, and who can fault that?).

What is the most underrated condiment?—Dbridi

None of them? I don’t have a go-to condiment, and use almost all of them on multiple different foods. I’ll take ketchup, mayo, salsa (especially verde), sour cream, honey mustard, barbecue, spicy mustard, yellow mustard, sweet & sour or polynesian sauce, garlic dressing, tzaziki, aioli, yum yum, relish, chutney, soy sauce, name it, and I’d probably put it on some sort of food. Except for ranch dressing, which is gross.

Now that marijuana is fully legal, not even talking about medically, in many states - do you try it when you visit those states?—PSU1979dude

If I was on my own, no. If I was with friends who wanted to partake, sure.

Helping do you “give back”?

LocalYocal mentioned a desire to build a house for a needy family without involving a charity and their overhead (should usually be 20-30%). What’s your favored method(s) of helping others who are less fortunate?

I was pleasantly surprised when the lady in front of me paid for my Dunkin’ order. But now that’s gotten so common that it’s almost annoying. I feel obligated to pay for the guy behind me, and that can get wildly expensive!—48-14

It’s hard to donate more than your money or your virtual time this year, so I’ve been just doing the former. Some of my big donations this year have gone to the Capital Area Food Bank and the Restaurant Workers Relief Fund; I’ve had visions of helping out at food banks every year, but so often they tell us that money is more important than donations or bodies, so that’s what I’ve been trying to do.

I also have stopped making fun of certain other schools’ fan bases as much, that’s charity, right?

What do you think is worst Christmas song?

I was thinking the Hippopotamus song, Dominck the Donkey, but Dincher hates “Last Christmas” by George Michael.

Off topic- What thing or what do you notice or see that has “exceptional functional beauty”?

Off off topic- How do you prevent or stem the tide of “forced obsolescence” and promote preservation, repurposing, and restoration?—mrb23

  1. Those who know me know it’s Baby It’s Cold Outside. Bar none, not a question.
  2. Does a burning fire in a fireplace count as functionally beautiful? Because that’s one of my favorite things.
  3. I used to not buy Apple phones :) But seriously, in a society where technology (especially functional electronic and computer technology) outpaces itself on an exponential basis, this is a really tough question. I do recycle my obsolete devices and electronics, after getting as much use out of them as I can. But I think we all can always do more on this front.

As someone that loves to travel, I’m sure you’re experiencing a healthy dose of wanderlust. Do you have any places or vacations in mind when travel restrictions are lifted? I’m thinking about taking the fam back to London or perhaps Greece. I’ve heard good things about the Croatian coast as well.—swift_retribution

I really, really have been - I was supposed to be spending much of December in Germany, visiting a friend, this year, and having to put that trip off has really been rough. So that is definitely happening in 2021, unless something even wonkier happens; I’ll be based in Stuttgart, and traveling around Germany and Itally and Switzerland (hopefully).

This upcoming year, too, is a significant birthday for me and I had been planning on getting an airbnb in London for 2-3 weeks over my birthday month (I haven’t been back to the UK since I studied abroad in Brighton my junior year), and that’s going to be on hold as I’ve resigned myself to the fact that I will be the only one I know who has had to isolate on two spring birthdays in a row.

My first foray out of the country’ll probably be something like, taking the quick 3 hr flight to mexico to luxuriate at a resort for a long weekend.

Hey Cari, did Taylor Swift drop an album recently?

I’m making the article guys.


You know she did! I was in meetings on Thursday when the midnight release was announced, and a text chain of my siblings brought the glorious news to my attention. I don’t think it’s a stretch to say that I might be listening to the new album (called evermore) while you (yes, YOU) are reading this mailbag! *

I loved Folklore quite a bit - while I still think Red is her strongest in terms of songcraft, as a full-on album, Folklore was her most complete, so I’m excited to see what she does next.**

*I wrote this entire piece on Thursday night. It is now 11:30 on Friday morning and I have already listened to the album 2x.

**It is a good album, but Folklore was better.